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Messiah College Doing More With Less

November 2003
With an ear for his customers' needs, Randy Stahl and his team have built a tight, efficient in-plant.

By Mike Llewellyn

Although central Pennsylvania's Messiah College Press recently added a 42˝ Hewlett-Packard 5500 wide-format printer to its lineup, and even though it's been checking out Xerox DocuTech, Canon and Océ printers to beef up its digital services, Manager Randy Stahl says the in-plant's chief talent is its ability to flourish in a tough economic environment.

"One of the biggest things is always doing more with less," he says from his office on Messiah's pastoral, 350-acre campus in Grantham, just outside the state capital.

What Stahl has to work with are 12 employees, 10,000 square feet of floor space and an $800,000 annual operating budget. And what he and the in-plant have done with that, under increasing pressure, is worth noting.

Four years ago, the in-plant moved into its current facility and, as part of the relocation, took on bulk mailing and installed an inserting machine. Stahl also took the opportunity the extra space afforded him to add a new two-color Itek press and a Duplo collator. But all that was before the economy lost its footing—and before the in-plant began to see the digital future as an immediate demand.

The Digital Adventure

Stahl says the necessity of digital technology became apparent simply by watching the needs of his customers change. Already, the in-plant's satellite copy centers, which handle just about all of the campus's copying needs, are running upwards of three million clicks each year. The school also prides itself on arts, cultural and community events, all of which require a lot of promotional posters.

Enter the wide-format printer.

"Wide-format jobs had been going off campus at the rate of about $10,000 each year," says Stahl. "So we saw this as something we could really get into as a valuable added service."

The in-plant just finished hammering out its pricing structure for the HP 5500, and Stahl says several departments have already lined up to take advantage of the on-site service.

In addition to posters and advertisements, Stahl says the in-plant is using the printer to get into proofing, and recently purchased an ECRM imagesetter to back up the shop's bank of medium-format offset presses.

Messiah College Press operates a pair of two-color A.B.Dick 9985s and a one-color A.B.Dick 350 for the four million impressions required by the campus each year.

"We use those presses to do everything from single-color right up to four-color," says Stahl, adding that the new imagesetter has increased the quality of the in-plant's offset output dramatically.


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